This piece dives deeper into the many different facets of contactless hospitality technology and how the rise in technology has helped immensely in the growth of the sector. The hardships and challenges faced by the hospitality industry during and after COVID-19 hit, were warning signs for many hoteliers to fathom what was and wasn’t working for them. Beginning from their operations not being contactless technology wise equipped for handling the changing needs of the guests in terms of safety, hygiene and security to bridging the gap between seamless guest experiences and the changing environment.
While some hospitality organizations had to deal with major drops in their booking rates or even shutting down, some with foresight made a quick 360 analysis, faced the challenges head on, and managed to come on top, just in time to make the most of the travel resurgence in the second half of 2021.
Indubitably, the rise of technology in the contactless hospitality business was an instrumental part of the revolution and a major reason why the hospitality industry could bounce back the way it did.
When used effectively, high-tech solutions can go a long way in providing opportunities for future development, cutting costs, boosting income, and helping in providing a wider range of services that are personalized and more efficient.
Technology In Different Sectors of The Hospitality Industry
The latest trends in the hospitality industry have substantially impacted guest expectations in terms of transparency, range of services, safety, and comfort. When hospitality is generally talked about, the following sectors are an essential part of it.
Travel and Tourism
Delivering impeccable service is one of the top priorities of almost all the hospitality organizations. From before the trip, to during it, to after it, keeping the customers’ needs in mind while optimizing systems is the key to where the technology must be applied.
As guests have become more accustomed to contactless services they expect similar services throughout their stay and a substantial part of it is lodging i.e. the rooms they stay in. From keyless entries, smart devices across the room to the availability of hotel-provided devices for ordering in-room service and housekeeping without much interaction with the hotel staff, technology is an omnipresent necessity.
Hospitality technology advancements extend to digital museums and AR experiences for guests to enjoy. The key is pushing the limits of innovation and creativity to provide the guests with amazing immersive experiences while keeping absolutely aligned with the social distancing protocol.
Food and Beverage
The pandemic indeed drove a wedge between the guests and the traditional hotel restaurant experience. While many guests now opt for in-room dining, the concept of dining in restaurants hasn’t gone entirely extinct. Technology has provided a large helping hand to the hotels in terms of delivering excellent in-room service owing to the hotel apps, digital menus and centrally automated systems.
In-Trend Technology Solutions For Contactless Hospitality
As a consequence of the upsurge of technology, the hospitality industry has benefited from several solutions that have helped the industry adapt to challenges, persist in unprecedented times and grow in unimaginable ways, all the while maintaining and enhancing the guest experience with striking consistency especially as regards contactless services.
As providing excellent service is one of the primary objectives of hospitality organizations, the hotel-guest relationship neither starts when a guest checks in and nor does it simply end when a guest checks out. From booking, to arrival, through the stay, post check out and even after, engaging with guests has been made increasingly easy by mobile technology. Mobile technology includes but is not limited to, in-hotel apps, 24X7 digital assistants and/or tour guides etc. It is an effective way to make the hotel experience more inclusive and wide, making sure the guests are in control and are free to choose the kind of experience they want.
Mobile applications go a long way especially with helping guests keep track of their digital documents and ease of access. As physical brochures, travel guides and maps have all been rendered unusable because of rising demand of contactless services, these mobile applications can curate all the guests’ information in one place for them to access anytime and anywhere.
Technology to The Business Travelers’ Rescue
Planning a trip can be a difficult task and more often than not guests cannot keep track of all their plans and that’s where virtual travel assistants come in handy, especially for business travelers.These are people who work remotely and are available at the beck and call of the hotel management. They assist with guest communications, managing bookings and other customer service tasks. Having a virtual travel assistant on board helps reduce human contact involved in booking and cancellations to a bare minimum.
The bar of guests’ standards for comfort, security and safety saw a particular push up post the pandemic. To keep up with these standards hospitality organizations have been constantly innovating and evolving with the best of technology solutions. Thanks to that, hotels are now laden with mobile keys, contactless check-in and check-out kiosks, digital concierge services, contactless in-room service and housekeeping via digital dashboards, and contactless payments. These solutions have not only provided the guests seamless, efficient, and highly personalized experiences but have helped the hospitality organizations increase revenues and streamline operations.
Artificial Intelligence is another champion technology solution. Hotels offer their guests AI enabled devices. These devices have in-built hotel apps that can be used by the guests throughout their stay so that they can access hotel services or a digital representative at the touch of a button. AI can do everything. Hilton has recently adopted an AI robot by the name of “Connie”. Connie is a master at taking cues from the guests’ speech. After adapting to it, he can deliver personal customer service and can provide the guests with tourist information. From Tokyo to Las Vegas, hotels are contemplating inculcating AI in their daily operations.
More on Technology
Despite keyless entries, there is still contact that takes place even if it is with the guests’ own devices. Face Recognition technology is a great solution that eliminates that too. This tech solution curbs the need for hotel-provided mobile devices or credit cards, or any other payment methods for availing food or any other services. This works quite favorably with loyalty programs as well. Guests can be identified via their Face-IDs and can be provided with customized experiences taking into account their previous stays.
Embedding chatbots in the hotel system is also a great way to ensure contactless services to the guests, as the chatbots are designed to help the hotel with several management operations and can also be a great replacement for human interaction. The Clarion Hotel in Stockholm has one such chatbot butler who can order room service and cabs at the behest of the guests and helps the hotel personnel with some operations.
Customization and personalization sit at the root of the ever-evolving hospitality industry. Creating unforgettable experiences for the guests is something that is a point of competition among the various hospitality organizations. And the IoT (Internet of Things) is making it possible, to an extent where a room-service revolution is just round the corner. Marriott is allegedly tying up with Samsung and Legrand to fabricate a “room of the future”. Fully stacked with smart devices, the IoT enabled room would be able to perform tasks like giving guests wake-up calls, setting the shower temperature or switching off unneeded appliances to save electricity.
Facts and Figures About Contactless Hospitality and Technology
Technology has affected the hospitality industry in such a massive way that the revenue due to installation of new technology is expected to increase by 135%. Technology laden hospitality operations are more likely to attract guests as there has been a 19% increase in the customer service ratings for use of technology.
According to a research, Robots are another attraction that the high-tech trend in the hospitality industry has given way to. The sales value of new robot installations is expected to be around $523 million. AI is trending so much that 25% of hospitality and leisure CEOs believe AI will have a major impact on their operations in the near future.
IoT is another point of capitalization for the hospitality industry, so much so that 70% of hospitality executives have already started on their IoT projects. Which goes in line with the growing demand for digital experiences. 81% of the travelers want more of the digital experience from their hotels.
The implementation of new technology in the hospitality industry has contributed to a 135% increase in online revenue. The personalized and digital customer service has kept the guests so satisfied that there has been a 71% decrease in guest complaints.
Virtual reality is another aspect of the transformed experiences hotels are trying to provide their guests with, keeping in mind the exceeding demand for contactless interactions. That is why, according to reports, at least 8 big players of the hotel industry are already strategizing on VR experiences.
Researchers predict that in the near future, contactless will become a mandate and “biological staff” will be reduced to a mere minimum. With the constantly evolving technology trends and the guest demands, hospitality organizations are increasingly inclining towards including more of mobile and digital technology in their day-to-day operations to redefine the hotel-guest relationship in the best way possible.
Even though the acceleration in the provision of the technology based experiences in hotels cannot completely be credited to the pandemic alone, there’s substantial evidence to support the fact that the repercussions of COVID-19 i.e. unrest among travelers and the need to be in control, have largely contributed to the hoteliers embracing and incorporating the technological advancements. Among many of these advancements, contactless technology has a major share. So much so that it has become a large chunk of what modern hospitality is building on.
The emergence and sustenance of contactless hospitality services is an evident example of how the rise of technology took the industry by storm and has now deeply rooted itself in the day-to-day. Contactless Hospitality Services are now a common and much desired part of the hospitality industry, so much so that guests now ‘expect’ contactless services.